10 Places to Go Storm Watching in Cornwall
Late autumn is when you can really start to feel the change in seasons in Cornwall. The air cools, the sea temperature starts to drop and heavy rain and high winds batter the coastline, exposed and unprotected as it is from the full force of the north Atlantic. It’s time to wrap up in your waterproofs, don those woolly hats and gloves, pull on your hiking boots and experience the full force of mother nature. That’s right: it’s storm watching season, and the rugged Cornish coast is one of the best places to enjoy all the exhilarating drama. We’ve selected a variety of locations, from cosy nooks where you can watch moody skies inside with a hot drink, to exposed cliffs where you can feel the wind whipping at your face while you gaze at monster waves. Or you can take it easy and storm watch from the comfort of your sofa in one of our cottages with sea views.
Please use your common sense when visiting these areas as Cornish tides, cliff edges, coastal paths and winds can be unpredictable and dangerous – exercise extreme caution with children and dogs, and always storm watch from a safe distance.
Trevaunance Cove at St Agnes faces north-west and provides a great view up the coast. Even smaller waves will give you a soaking if you stand on the slipway just beneath Schooners restaurant, which was entirely engulfed by a giant wave in 2014. When the storms get too strong, this little eatery is closed and boarded up to protect the windows, but when it’s open, it’s a fab excuse to grab some lunch and enjoy the show.
Polzeath is one of north Cornwall’s best surf breaks and is renowned for its powerful waves, so you know that when a storm hits this beach, it’s going to be spectacular. The wide sandy expanse is surrounded by a range of cafes and restaurants where you can watch the proceedings – try the Cracking Crab next to Tristram car park for unparalleled views and a child-friendly atmosphere. Watch out for high tidal surges that can flood the road as well as the beach car park – you have been warned! Take the coast path for a challenging walk round to the Pentire Point headland. Here you’ll taste sea salt on your face as you watch the white water boiling furiously around a series of jagged rocks that stick up from the sea like fangs, known as the Rumps. For a more gentle stroll, head the other way to Daymer Bay and gaze out over the pounding waves to Rock and Padstow.
This picturesque, quintessentially Cornish fishing village is a delight to visit in sunny weather and is also a fantastically atmospheric place to hunker down during storm season too. Well known as the inspiration for children’s book The Mousehole Cat, it will really fire the imaginations of young storm watchers. The tale’s hero is a fisherman’s feline, who heads out of the harbour with her master into stormy seas to bring back a catch for the village. Head to the harbour to see the sea hit the high side of the wall and cascade over, and imagine the paws of the Great Storm Cat trying to catch the little fishing vessels as they bob about on the water.
Sennen Cove, on the far west end of Cornwall, is a hotspot for storm watchers, who flock to see the massive waves crash over the Cowloe Reef and the town itself. A wild but safe vantage point is the National Trust’s Lookout on the South West Coast Path – bundle up warm, pop a Thermos of cocoa in your bag and head up there to watch the rollers come in.
Known as ‘the most battered storm town in the UK’, Porthleven is the mother of all Cornish storm watching spots. The historic fishing village shot to fame in 2014, when a monstrous 50 ft wave crashed up against the harbour wall and over the church on the pier. Its exposed situation on Cornwall’s south-west coast means it’s well worth a trip when a howling sou’wester looms. If you don’t fancy getting wet, seek shelter at the Ship Inn, where you can peer out at the raging sea from the windows.
If big blue waves are your thing, head to Cape Cornwall, near the village of St Just and just four miles from Land’s End. This storm watching location hit the news earlier this year, when a couple were caught on camera taking a ‘danger selfie’ with a huge curling wave behind them during Storm Ciara. The distinctive headland juts out into the ocean where two great bodies of water meet: the English Channel and St George’s Channel. Its exposed location means giant waves and fantastic panoramic coastal views. A great lookout point is from the old tin mining stack that sits on top of the headland.
A truly exhilarating but sensible place to see all the stormy action along Penzance promenade is from one of the many seafront cafes and restaurants. You’ll be in prime position at the water’s edge and just a few feet above the sea, where it can feel as if you’re in the raging water itself. Watch the swell pummel the harbour with ferocious energy, spewing water over the road and passing cars. Be on your guard here – the powerful waves can knock pedestrians off their feet, so stay away from the seafront altogether.
Only the bravest of storm chasers need apply here! The UK’s most southern point provides raging seas and howling winds in spades – and you’ll be doing well if you manage to fight your way down the point without the wind knocking you over. You can see why many ships have been wrecked on the headland’s rocks, driven in by relentless winds. Seek shelter in the little cafe and watch the sea batter the cliffs while you enjoy a Cornish cream tea.
Porth Island, Newquay
Porth Island, Newquay, is an epic storm watching place for children. Be prepared to get a soaking from the blowhole that spews out spray like a geyser as the water rushes into the caves through a narrow gully. There’s also a thrilling amount of spray to get you wet as the sea collides with the cliff face, which you can experience first hard via the little footbridge that gives access to the island over the swirling sea.
Wild waters churning around Bedruthan’s dramatic granite pillars make for spectacular storm watching. Known as the giants stepping stones, the rocks are located between Padstow and Newquay. You can view ferocious waters boiling around the stunning natural sea stacks from the safety of a fenced cliff-top area. Don’t hover too close to the edge, though – the winds are vicious.